The Grammar of Ornament 1856 by Owen Jones
This book was first published in 1856 and is a design classic! Owen Jones was born in 1809 and is a key figure in the history of British design. He was an architect and designer who taught in London during the 1850s.
He traveled in Europe and the Near East, were he helped to bring back ideas to improve the quality of Western design.
The first 19 chapters presented key examples of ornament from a number of sources which were diverse both historically and geographically - notably examining the Middle East in the chapters on Arabian, Turkish, Moresque (Alhambra) and Persian ornament. The final chapter, titled ‘Leaves and Flowers from Nature’ acknowledged that “in the best periods of art, all ornament was based upon an observation of the principles which regulate the arrangement of form in nature” and that “true art consists of idealising, and not copying, the forms of nature”.Christopher Dresser, Owen Jones’s most well-known protégé, contributed one of the plates in this final chapter, and he was concurrently presenting theories on natural-form ornament in his famous botanical lectures at the Government School of Design in the mid-1850s.
Jones gathered together these samples of ornament as ‘best’ examples of decoration in an attempt to encourage designers to follow his lead in examining the underlying principles contained within the broad history of ornament and polychromy. The Grammar was hugely influential in design schools in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and is still in print today, maintaining its relevance as a source of inspiration for contemporary designers